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Logical Fallacies and Poor Reasoning in Advertisements

HUMA02 Professor Petit. TA. Sarah Kleeb. Due: 02/27/13
by

Nadine VS

on 26 February 2013

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Transcript of Logical Fallacies and Poor Reasoning in Advertisements

INTRODUCTION Logical Fallacies
and Poor Reasoning Today logical fallacies are seen repeatedly throughout the media. The media is a perfect example of how logical fallacies can create false consciousness and manipulation of the audience member. One of the most influential aspects of the media that influences the knowledge of its audience is advertisements. Advertisements can illustrate numerous purposes such as it can promote consumerism, create awareness and promote "information". Advertisements are everywhere and include countless logical fallacies that are embedded in the advertisement – it is up to the viewer to “detect them, so you’re not taken in by them” (Vaughn, 169). in Advertisements “Fallacies are often beguiling; they seem plausible. Time and again they are psychologically persuasive though logically impotent” (Vaughn, 169). This quote is an accurate reflection of how advertisements include many logical fallacies - creating a risk of false consciousness, manipulation and bad decisions. SO WHAT? This project will be a critical analysis of the negative effects that logical fallacies have on the critical thinking process through advertisements. As a result, I will “scrutinize the most common ones [logical fallacies]” (Vaughn 169) to prove that the presence of logical fallacies in advertisements can create a risk of false consciousness and manipulation in terms of critical thinking. At the end of the project, the most common logical fallacies will be investigated in terms of definition, appearance in various advertisements and the impact on the critical thinking process. The main goal of this project is to promote the importance of critical thinking and examine a claim before fully accepting the claims merits. This will help reduce the potential risk of false consciousness and manipulation of the audience members and most importantly help prevent bad decisions. Red Herring and Appeal to Authority Firstly, one of the most common logical fallacy that is portrayed in advertisements is Red Herring. Red herring is "raising of an irrelevant issue during an argument” (Vaughn, 180). Red Herring is commonly used in many advertisements to keep the audience member's attention. Through the use of red herring the audience member is kept interested and attentive which decreases the chance of ignoring the advertisements - this increases product sales. Analysis After observing the advertisement on the previous slide it is clear that the arguer is using Red Herring to keep the audience attention. Firstly, the advertisement captured one of the most successful celebrities at the moment to promote the product – Justin Bieber (appeal to authority). This immediately captures the attention of the audience members. Upon further analysis, red herring is evident as throughout the commercial the product was never physical shown or provided any before or after shoots. The advertisements main goal is to promote the product proactive to enhance an individual’s skin in terms of acne. Throughout the advertisement the product was not shown to work – it was mainly promoted as a product that Justin Bieber uses. With this, the advertisement is clearly stating that if Justin Bieber uses this product, you should use it too. Many of the scenes that was shown did not have anything to do with the product such as the scene where Justin Bieber was playing basketball. To summarize, the advertisement is a perfect example of the logical fallacy Red Herring simply because the majority of the commercial was promoting “irrelevant issues during an agrument” (Vaughn, 180). The content of the commercial did not have anything to do with the actual product being sold. "Make sure you use it. I'm going to go play ball" - Justin Bieber. Upon further analysis, red herring is a perfect example of how a logical fallacy is used to create a sense of false consciousness and manipulation in the critical thinking process. Due to lack of logic and reasoning the audience member is manipulated in believing that by purchasing this product it will automatically give them perfect, clean skin simply because Justin Bieber is endorsing it (appeal to authority). The commercial fails to provide the consumer with scientific or relevant information on the product. Essentially, the commercial neglects the ingredients, the procedures of using the products and so on. Furthermore, another example of red herring in advertisements will be investigated. Firstly, the purpose of red herring is to “put forth a claim and then couple it with additional claims that may seem to support it but in fact are mere distractions” (Vaughn, 180). This tactic is highly embedded in one of the most well-known and humorous advertisements – old spice. The old spice advertisement is aimed to appeal to the demographic of women and men in a humorous approach. Throughout the advertisement red herring is evident while the script transforms to information about the commodity being advertised (old spice) to random scenes and suggestions that are simply irrelevant to the product being sold. For example the transition of old spice to sea shells. This form of advertising clearly resembles red herring where “the addition claims are mere distractions” (Vaughn, 180). To summarize, the humorous, fast pace commercial is used to provide the audience with memorable material. This material is aimed to attract and keep the interest of the audience despite the fact that the majority of the commercial is irrelevant to the product advertised. Therefore, the advertisement has a negative effect on the critical thinking process of the audience members. It is embedded into the audience members mind that by purchasing the commodity old spice it will immediately improve their relationships. The commercial states that “anything is possible when your man smells like me and not a lady” (Old spice). This essentially creates a sense of false consciousness as they are exposed to irrelevant promises and expectations when the commodity is purchased. Appeal to the Person Appeal to the person is a common logical fallacy seen in numerous advertisements which causes serious harm to the claim makers credibility. To appeal to the person is to “reject a claim by criticizing the person who makes it rather than the claim itself” (Vaughn 170). The purpose of appeal to the person is to reject and belittle the claim maker to manipulate the audience into thinking that the claim put forward is false simply because of the person’s character. Appeal to the person is an important logical fallacy to investigate in terms of encouraging others to evaluate a claim based on the information provided not based on the merits of whom makes the claim. Appeal to the person is highly damaging to one’s critical thinking as the audience member thoughts are infringed by a bias persona – essentially, “claims [should] be judged on their own merits”. (Vaughn, 170) Claims should not be based on a “person’s character, motives, or personal circumstances” (Vaughn, 170). The following commercial is a prime example of appeal to the person. It is not unusual for the logical fallacy of ‘appeal to the person’ to appear in political campaign advertisements. The motive behind the use of appeal to the person in the following advertisement is simple – to undermine one political candidate to gain more support and credibility for another candidate. In this case – Mitt Romney is discredited throughout the commercial in order for Obama to appear to be the most reliable and beneficial candidate. During the advertisement, Romney’s personal circumstances are discredited and pronounced to be weak and unstable where “here someone making a claim is accused of inconsistency – specially, of maintaining a view that is inconsistent with his or her previous views or social or political commitments” (Vaughn, 171). This advertisement is a perfect example of how appeal to the person is used to discredit another’s claim to benefit the arguer. With the information aforementioned, it is evident that appeal to the person is a logical fallacy that must be examined and exposed to the public to help improve the critical thinking process to help minimize bad decision making. Through discrediting the claim maker the individual is believed to think that the claim that is made is false. CONCLUSION Therefore, the audience member is encouraged to reject the claim simply because of the claim makers circumstance. However, “the circumstances are irrelevant to the truth of the claim” (Vaughn, 171). It is important for the audience member to use logic and reasoning to examine a main independently without the interference of another agent. Logical Fallacies are largely visible in numerous advertisements. The audience member is presented with many arguments that seem logically acceptable, however, can be faulty at times. It is up to the viewer to examine the advertisements to eliminate the amount of faulty reasoning that can be stored into many advertisements. Logical fallacies are harmful to an individual’s critical thinking process as many arguments are filled with additional bias content which create a sense of false consciousness to the viewer. It is evident that many advertisements include the logical fallacy of red herring and appeal to the person. These two logical fallacies are used to manipulate a claim to appeal to the claim maker’s intent. Essentially, logical fallacies must be examined and exposed to the public to help eliminate the potential risk of false consciousness and manipulation to the critical thinking process. One should be able to examine a claim without the interference of a second agent. Works Cited Anonymous | Old Spice. YouTube. N.p., 13 July 2010. Web. 22 Feb.2013.<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LWCVhGzrAT0>.

Justin Bieber Proactiv Commercial. Perf. Justin Bieber. YouTube. N.p., 23 Jan. 2011. Web.22 Feb. 2013. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ycrbaXipHw>.

Old Spice | The Man Your Man Could Smell Like. Youtube. N.p., 4 Feb. 2010. Web. 22 Feb.2013. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=owGykVbfgUE>.

Vaughn, Lewis, and Chris MacDonald. The Power of Critical Thinking. Don Mills, Ont.:Oxford UP, 2010. Works Cited We've Heard It All Before - Obama for America Television Ad. YouTube. N.p., 4 June 2012.Web. 22 Feb. 2013. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oWdZEJW1vWY>.

"Wordle - Beautiful Word Clouds." Wordle - Beautiful Word Clouds. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Feb.2013.
<http://www.wordle.net/> By Nadine Van Spronsen Example two: Red Herring The advertisement shows irrelevant content. Analysis Upon further analysis, the advertisement attacks Romney's character, motive and personal circumstances. The claim that is made in these advertisements by Romney is that: “I know what it takes to create jobs” (Mitt Romney). With this, “the arguer suggest that Romney’s claims, ideas, or theories should be rejected” (Vaughn, 171) simply because the claims that Romney made in the past was not successful. Secondly, appeal to authority is when a "claim comes from someone who resembles an expert but is not an expert" (Vaughn, 155). Appeal to authority Red Herring Retrieved from: Wordle retrieved from: google images (proactive Justin Bieber)
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